Carl Hiassen’s latest novel, Bad Monkey, is the story of disgraced former Miami detective Andrew Yancy and his efforts to get his badge back after an unfortunate (and public) incident with a mini-vac and someone’s rear end. As is typical with Hiassen’s novels, Bad Monkey is chock full of quirky characters one would wish to encounter in any trip down to southern Florida.
Yancy starts out the novel just having been demoted to restaurant inspector, but with some remaining ties to law enforcement. It’s because of these ties that he ends up with a man’s arm in a cooler, next to his supply of popsicles he maintains for lengthy drives from the Keys to Miami. Fishermen came across the arm in a tour of the Keys and Yancy’s boss, the local sheriff, just wants it dealt with away from the public eye. But when the widow of the man who owned the arm acts a little too content with her new marital status, Yancy gets a little suspicious and starts his own investigation. He’s convinced the widow Eve murdered her husband to collect on his sizeable life insurance policy. If he can prove his hunch is right, certainly they’ll have to return his badge. Right?
The disgraced detective’s investigations take him from the morgue in Miami (where he meets a sexy coroner named Rosa) to a small island in the Bahamas (home of the voodoo Dragon Queen and the eponymous Bad Monkey, Dreggs), with a lot of antics in between.
I enjoyed this novel, though if I am being completely honest, it’s not that unique when compared with the rest of Hiassen’s oeuvre. That being said, don’t they always say to write what you know or find something you can do well and keep at it? Hiassen certainly does that with this book, and any fan of his former works will enjoy this lighthearted comedy/mystery. I was surprised by the twist he included in this one; usually you know what you’re getting with Hiassen’s stories. Yancy is a classic Hiassen hero. He has a dark sense of humor and a deep love for Florida’s natural beauty. The supporting cast in this story, of which there are several, are also familiar tropes in Hiassen’s works: a selfish developer skirting the laws to ruin the land for a profit, a scheming widow, a crazy local (this time a Bahamian voodoo practitioner known as the Dragon Queen), a dumb henchman with more brawn than brains, etc. All of the characters add up to an entertaining, light beach read.